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on 20 February 2010
These are only my personal opinions. But having read both the synopsis here on Amazon and the other reviews of this movie, either I've missed something entirely or other people have completely misinterpreted this film.

I would definitely agree that this movie does have some truly wonderful comedy moments. However, that does not automatically mean that it is a 'Comedy.' And indeed, like many of my favourite Japanese and Korean movies, it is actually rather difficult to define.

The film's trailer on the DVD described it as a 'Heart-warming story of four adults who don't quite fit into adult society.' And in truth, I believe that this is the best way for anyone to put it into words.

First of all, there is the junior manager of a hospital's cleaning service; a genuinely good man, still single at thirty who always puts other people first. His own boss insists that he just wants people to like him, and in his self-conscious insecurity, he believes him. But no, in reality he is genuinely a good person, and many others recognise him for what he is.

Secondly, there is the first man's childhood friend who one woman describes as a 'Degenerate.' Even though he is also on the verge of turning thirty, he is obsessed with horror films and childish pranks, calling his practical jokes 'Research' because he longs to build "The Scariest Haunted House In The World." So is he just refusing to grow up, or is he genuinely pursuing his dream?

Next of course is Akari, the woman without whom this film could never have been made. How anyone could find her 'Hilarious' is beyond me, because I do feel genuine compassion for her. And while it's true that she is 'Clumsy to the point of being useless,' the irony is that it's her fear of mistakes that causes many accidents in the first place.

She's not a 'Clutz.' She's a genuinely talented artist, and like the first man, a truly beautiful human being. When she loses her job and is reduced to eating fish which she has caught from a nearby river, he tries to help her, but he is nervous and ashamed because he's 'Obviously just trying to get into her bedroom.'

And finally, there is a customer at the bookshop who only appears once during the first part of the film. He is also a good person, but the red birthmark on his face makes him nervous, self-conscious and ashamed.

In short then, these four people are only really held back by their fears of what 'Others' might think. So if only they could relax and be themselves, then they would surely find true happiness.

Beyond this group however, the second man's father is the owner of the bookshop and he feels very depressed. For what reason? We're not entirely sure. But in the end, he does find true happiness, and one of my favourite parts of the film is the song which he dedicates to his love of rice.

At least one person has complained about the ending of this movie. After all, it probably wouldn't even fit many Western people's definition of an 'Ending' in the first place. But as I mentioned before, this is really the story of four people's search for the contentment that will one day lead to happiness. So instead of offering us 'Jealousy & Bitterness' or 'Victory vs. Defeat,' I found the quiet ending to be very poignant and beautiful; the two men who'd also loved her both moving on and remaining friends, still dreaming of what 'Might' have been as her new happiness made them feel happy as well.

In conclusion then, this is a very touching 'Slice of Life' drama without Western clichés of any kind. It is subtle, gentle, heart-rending and emotive, yet also hilarious and even quite disturbing at times. In short, it is another masterpiece of Asian cinema. And having felt hesitant to even buy this DVD because of blinkered attempts to label it a 'Comedy,' I will pay much more attention to my own instincts from now on.
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on 21 April 2010
totally in agreement with the other reviewers. whats so great about this film is that it bypasses the left brain altogether. so perfectly realised, it really doesn't matter if you dissect it to death, or leave it alone, the enjoyment is as simple and touching which is what really really counts.
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on 19 May 2009
What an unexpected pleasure this film is! Quite often, Japanese comedies don't work too well for western audiences as our cultural (and subcultural) values are so different. However, no such problem exists here.

This is an utterly charming and whimsical movie which succeeds by means of a quirky plot concerning some really unusual, rather geeky characters, all of whom are played to perfection by the actors. The heart of the film (and source of the biggest laughs) is the character played by Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, a man reluctant to face up to the need to act his age and harbouring dreams of opening a haunted theme park. His friends are similarly nerdy and unrealistic and as the film progresses their paths cross with an attractive but painfully shy girl who is an artist.

Every participant in the movie is a small triumph of characterisation and acting, each with their own perfect little scenes and quirks and certainly different from the standard perception of Japanese people as salarymen or drones. This film is about youthful dreams and how we can compromise as we get older without selling our souls.

The best thing about this film is that you will genuinely feel better for having seen it. It is a truly funny and hugely optimistic view of what it is to be human. I think I'll be watching this one again and again.
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on 12 June 2013
I'm an eclectic film fan and that of course includes Japanese cinema, itself extremely varied as anyone who genuinely considers themselves a 'fan' in the real sense. In the Nippon sense, I can contentedly enjoy the wider fringes from the Ichi (the killer) through to examples such as this, via the Studio Gibli. For me, each provides interest, but i'm perhaps somewhat biased towards favouring the far east, and still wide eyed at the 'novelty' of the eastern films?

I encountered this film from watching the similarly feeling Turtles are surprisingly fast swimmers. Both share a wonderful sense of Japanese-flavoured innocent humour, in what some may (harshly in my mind) consider mundane settings. Whilst clearly not having what some may consider the big, spoon-fed impact american films 'shout' out to you for example, they are no worse for it in my view. The joy you can feel from Gibli examples can be found here in the live action world to a fair degree, the characters in the films are quirkily flawed in an entertaining way that is refreshingly different to our Mr Beans, or other slapstick or blunt humoured examples we've been used to in the west. This and Turtles... are of the same ilk, so if you've enjoyed that, almost certainly you'll enjoy this.

Objectively, I can see perhaps why it's not everyone's cup of tea, certainly if you're attention-demanding this is unlikely to appeal. But a pleasantly enjoyable viewing that you can think deeper if the fancy takes you (there are some interesting messages), or simply observe this intriguing slice of Japan. Lol, you can always watch with this your new date, and you'll look the perfect catch despite any flaws!!
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on 28 November 2013
I purchased this with no prior knowledge of the movie. After a little while watching it I noticed that it really grew into a great story. For the most part it is subtle and not predictable so compared to the usual brain-dead hollywood bore-fests, this stayed fresh and engaging all the way through. I especially liked the tie up at the end. It went against formula and felt right. If you prefer michael bay explosions, this isn't for you. For me, I'm looking for more by this director and cast.
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on 30 June 2013
i love unusual films this well crafted story,involving,three people who are quite literally lost in the world come together in one of there dads book shop slowly they get purpose and grow.excellent film quality.if you liked instant swamp you will love this.
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on 1 December 2009
As I'm a fan of Japanese Cinema, I'm used to and understand Japanese humour, but this film can be easily understood by the western audience.
I recommend this film a lot, based around three characters, two of which are quite eccentric, Akari is a very (and I mean very) clumsy woman who is on the border of being useless, her actions may seem exaggerated but is highly hilarious. Teruo is also very funny, being obsessed with making his own horror movies and wanting to create the world best haunted house, his "research" is definitely the best moments for him in the movie, don't think I laughed so much for ages! (plus his father, another eccentric character adds more hilarity with his travels)
Hisanobu seems to be the normal one in the film and the most realistic, realising he is nearly 30 and wants to "grow up" to add a bit of moral to the story. It is quite difficult to review the film as giving away any plot would ruin the surprise and humour. But I guess you probably already get the idea it is a weird, wonderful story that leaves you feeling good to the end, I already look forward to watching it again soon!
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on 6 September 2013
Another Japanese comedy, I can see how it may not be too easy to understand if you don't get Japanese humor and culture. In my opinion is worth watching it.
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on 26 February 2011
Like many films today this seems to be a quite realistic portayal of life (for all its quirks). It is a nice, gentle likeable film with funny bits. The characters are agreeable and nothing to shock overly. A slice of Japanese eccentricity. fun
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on 23 June 2016
So fun!
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